Research at AOMA

A central educational objective for both the doctoral and master's programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine is to that of incorporating evidence and experience-based practices into the instruction of our students and in the clinical practice of both faculty and students.

It is a stated goal within AOMA's 2011 - 2015 strategic plan for the institution to promote Asian Medicine through research and publications. To this end, a structure is in development to support such a program. In working towards this goal, the institution strives to:

  • Participate in research with key institutions.
  • Support faculty in AOM scholarship activities.
  • Support student and alumni research projects.
  • Obtain grants.

The Director of Research is John S. Finnell, ND, MPH, LAc.

The AOMA faculty members have rich and varied scholarly backgrounds and many have distinguished records of research productivity both here and abroad. Each faculty member has a designated area of interest/expertise in an area of scholarly achievement. In order to assure that students have a foundation for evidence-based practice, AOMA strives to provide basic research literacy with the stated goal of developing practitioners who can assess and apply research findings to practice, and who can appreciate the potential strengths and weaknesses in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western biomedical research approaches and designs. Upon completion of master's and doctoral programs, graduates will be prepared to utilize the clinical information produced by research in TCM and Western biomedicine in their practices and thereby improve the care and treatment of their patients.

Research Projects

Relationship between Biomarkers of Aging and Qigong Practice: A Case Control Study

Study area: mind-body, qigong, aging, Klotho

Project description: This is a case-controlled study of Klotho protein expression in Qigong experienced and Qigong naïve adults.  We are investigating the possibility that Klotho, an anti-aging protein highly expressed in the kidney and choroid plexus of the brain, may be affected by Qigong practice that is focused on cultivating Essence.  Deficiency of Klotho and deficiency of Kidney Essence share a common age-like phenotype. Although a relatively recent area of research inquiry, differences in Klotho protein expression have been implicated in rapid aging and increased oxidative stress. We hypothesize that changes in circulating Klotho levels may provide a mechanistic model for the beneficial effects of Qigong practice.

Status: Active

Principal investigator: John S. Finnell, ND, MPH, LAc

Research team: Sarah Bentley

Institutional partners: Rosenblatt Laboratory at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Funding and support: Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM)

Unraveling the Relationship between Biomarkers of Aging and Vitamin D Metabolism

Study area: nutrition, vitamin D, aging, Klotho

Project description: We are investigating the possibility that correction of vitamin D insufficiency in healthy adults may result in increased expression of Klotho, an anti-aging protein tightly involved in vitamin D homeostasis.  Deficiency of Klotho confers an age-like phenotype in multiple mammalian species. Decreased Klotho protein expression has been implicated in rapid aging and increased oxidative stress, and potentially contributes to increased disease risk and all-cause mortality associated with vitamin D insufficiency. We hypothesize that treating vitamin D insufficiency may result in changes in circulating Klotho levels.  We expect that this research may lead to a better understanding of the health benefits of sufficient vitamin D status.

Status: Active

Principal investigator: John S. Finnell, ND, MPH, LAc

Research team: Ryan Bradley ND, Nataliya Bulayeva PhD, Kevin Rosenblatt MD PhD

Institutional partners: Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA; Rosenblatt Laboratory at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine at UTHSC Houston (BIMM UTHSC Houston)

Funding and support: AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine; Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation; Bastyr University; BIMM UTHSC Houston; NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM: 5T32AT000815)

Publications: Traub ML, Finnell JS, Bhandiwad A, Oberg E, Suhaila L, Bradley R. Impact of Vitamin D3 Dietary Supplement Matrix on Clinical Response. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Published Online: March 31, 2014. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2013-3162

AOMA Cold and Flu Survey

Study area: influenza, upper respiratory infection, public health

Project description: This survey is being conducted to estimate the prevalence of influenza and upper respiratory infections at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine (AOMA) between December 2013 and February 2014.  The survey is being conducted for research and educational purposes.  The results of this survey will be published and used as an educational aid for students at AOMA.  We hope that the results of this research study help us educate the AOMA community on ways that we can better be prepared for the next cold and flu season.

Status: Active

Principal investigator: John S. Finnell, ND, MPH, LAc

Research team: DAOM Program

Institutional partners: N/A

Funding and support: AOMA

Fasting and Alternative to Standard Therapeutics (FAST) Safety Study

Study area: fasting, safety, adverse events, vegan diet, caloric restriction

Project description: This retrospective safety study investigates the safety and tolerability of a residential medically-supervised fasting intervention, compared by age and medical diagnosis to diet-only intervention. This is a population-based cohort study of patients who underwent either a low-salt, low-fat, vegan dietary intervention or a medically-supervised fast (water, juice, or broth) at the TrueNorth Health Center (TNHC) in Santa Rosa, California.  Structured adverse event data, as defined under Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE), were collected from the medical records of consecutive patients from 2006 to 2011.

Status: Active

Principal investigator: John S. Finnell, ND, MPH, LAc

Research team: Alan Goldhamer, DC; Sophie Lorn ND

Institutional partners: TNHC

Funding and support: National Health Association; AOMA; TNHC

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Professionalism, ethical responsibility, and federal regulation all require that an unbiased review by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) precede the implementation of a research program.  In compliance with these principles, the duty of the AOMA Institutional Review Board is to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects.

The AOMA IRB provides oversight to all institutional research projects that involve human subjects.  In so doing, we, as a research institution:

  • Ensure that the risks of scientific advancement shall never outweigh the value of human life.
  • Follow our traditions while embracing new technologies and practices.
  • Maintain appropriate ethical conduct and regulatory compliance.
  • Honor all persons.
  • Engage in a continuing quest for excellence.
  • Maintain an “open book” policy regarding all studies under consideration.
  • Ensure timely disposition of all studies under consideration.

Any research that involves human subjects conducted by AOMA faculty, staff, or students, whether funded or unfunded, is under the jurisdiction of the IRB.

The IRB is responsible for determining and assuring that:

  • The welfare and rights of human subjects are adequately protected and that informed consent is given, if necessary.
  • Human subjects are not placed at unreasonable physical, mental, or emotional risk as a result of research.
  • The necessity and importance of the research outweighs the risks to the subjects.
  • The researcher(s) is/are qualified to conduct research involving human subjects.

IRB Contact: Raja Mandyam, MD (India) - rmandyam@aoma.edu, (512) 492-3036